COVID-19

Step by step, here's how GM prepared its Warren plant for face mask construction

General Motors has stepped in and utilized its Warren transmission plant for face mask production.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors launched the project to produce face masks at scale on Friday, March 20, amid increasing pressure from the Trump administration to step up like Ford and FCA had. By next week, the automaker plans to deliver the first 20,000 masks to frontline workers.

"Our team began looking at ways we could quickly utilize our talents and resources to help in the shared fight against COVID-19," said Peter Thom, GM vice president, Global Manufacturing Engineering. "Working around the clock, our team rallied with incredible passion and focus to come up with a plan to produce masks that will help protect the women and men on the front lines of this crisis."

2020 face mask coronavirus production General Motors worked to create a clean environment for mask production. Photo courtesy of General Motors

How did it all come together? Here's a breakdown of the timeline of six days, 23 hours, 30 minutes, in GM's own words.

March 20-26, 2020

At 3 p.m. on Friday, March 20, the core team assembled for the first time, kicking off the project and starting the timer.

"Because we wanted to move fast, the team set an incredibly aggressive goal: To have the production line up and running tests within a week," said Thom.

More than 30 engineers, designers, buyers and members of the manufacturing team were asked to help with product development, sourcing materials and equipment, and planning the production process.

"The first people we called were those who work with fabric vehicle components," said Karsten Garbe, GM plant director, Global Pre-Production Operations. "In a few days, the company's seat belt and interior trim experts became experts in manufacturing face masks."

2020 face mask coronavirus production The company's interior and trim experts had to quickly pivot to working with new materials. Photo courtesy of General Motors

The team sourced the necessary raw materials by leveraging GM's existing supply chain. These materials include metal nose pieces, elastic straps and blown, non-woven fabric filter material. Simultaneously, GM collaborated with JR Automation in Holland, Michigan and Esys Automation in Auburn Hills to design and build the custom machinery needed to assemble the masks.

For the project, the team selected the ISO Class 8-equivalent cleanroom at GM's manufacturing plant in Warren. Work began at the Warren facility by removing existing equipment from the cleanroom. The team cleared approximately 31,000 square feet to accommodate the mask production lines. Crews then installed new electrical service lines to power the production equipment and assembly stations.

2020 face mask coronavirus production Production will begin next week and within two weeks ramp up to 50,000 masks per day, with the potential to increase to 100,000 per day. Photo courtesy of General Motors

With the site cleared and prepped, production equipment and materials were then delivered to the Warren facility. Crews worked around the clock to install equipment and stage the production line. The team then tested each step in the production process, looking for opportunities to improve quality and production speed.

March 27, 2020

At 2:30 p.m. on Friday, March 27, the project team had their first production-made mask in their hands.

"Not only did the team make their goal, but they over-delivered," said Thom. "They actually beat our deadline, running the first mask through the equipment 30 minutes ahead of target. We're excited because this means we're even closer to being able to protect the healthcare teams who are working tirelessly to save lives."

March 30, 2020

The projected production volume is just as aggressive as the project's timeline. By Monday, March 30, more than 2,000 masks were produced by teams working through the weekend. These initial test samples will be used to ensure the quality standards are met. Once these quality measures are completed, the team expects to start producing masks for delivery early next week.

2020 face mask coronavirus production Engineers and technicians set-up and test the machines that will be used to manufacture Level 1 face masks Monday, March 30, 2020 at the General Motors Warren, Michigan manufacturing facility. Photo courtesy of General Motors

GM and the UAW will seek more than two dozen paid volunteers from Detroit-area plants to staff mask operations. In addition, GM has implemented a series of safety measures to protect these team members through physical distancing, enhanced on-site cleaning and pre-entry health screening.

Planned: April 8, 2020

The team expects to have 20,000 masks ready for delivery on Wednesday, April 8. Once the line is running at full speed, it will be able to produce up to 50,000 masks every day – or up to 1.5 million masks a month. GM is currently developing a plan for distributing the masks, including using some of this important safety equipment to protect employees in critical GM operations.

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Electric vehicle production

GM outlines huge investment in new EV production

The $7 billion number is GM's largest single investment to date.

General Motors

Automakers are not shy about their plans to electrify their vehicle lineups. In fact, it's just the opposite, as most can't wait to release a media kit that sings the virtues of moving toward electrification and outlines their commitments to investing billions to make the move a reality. General Motors has been more active than most, building new facilities and revamping existing factories to handle new-age EV manufacturing. Today, the auto giant announced a further investment to build a new plant and overhaul the Orion Township facility in Michigan. The move creates thousands of jobs and positions GM as an early powerhouse in the EV race.

GM EV investment. GM says its new and existing facilities will create and retain thousands of jobs.General Motors

The $7 billion investment is slated for four Michigan manufacturing facilities. GM says the move will create 4,000 new jobs and retain 1,000 existing positions, and notes that the amount represents the single largest investment in company history. A new Ultium Cells battery plant in Lansing is part of the deal, along with the conversion of the GM assembly planting Orion Township. Orion will eventually house production of the upcoming Chevrolet Silverado EV and the electric GMC Sierra, making it the second of GM's facilities dedicated to building electric pickup trucks.

The Orion and Ultium Cells Lansing facilities will help GM boost its total full-size electric truck production to 600,000 units per year when both Factory Zero and Orion are in full swing. Though Ford sells more full-size trucks than Chevy or GMC individually, GM notes that the two combined move more trucks per year than The Blue Oval. The two plants join General Motors' existing EV-ready facilities that include Factory Zero in Detroit-Hamtramck, Spring Hill Assemble in Tennessee, CAMI in Ontario, and the Ramos Arizpe Assembly facility in Mexico.

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Chevy recently dropped a load of specs and opened orders for the new Silverado EV.

Chevrolet

After months of teases and speculation, Chevrolet took the wraps off its 2024 Silverado EV pickup truck. The long-awaited electric truck lands with impressive range of up to 400 miles, plenty of power, and neat features that improve its ability to do "truck stuff." The $105,000 RST First Edition model sold out in 12 minutes, so we're here to ask the question: Would you line up to buy one?

2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV It's all about the screens in the RST First Edition model. Chevrolet

Chevrolet will offer the truck in two trims at launch: A fleet-oriented WT (work truck) model and a consumer-friendly RST First Edition model. Chevy says it will eventually offer a fleet model with 20,000 pounds of max towing capacity. The WT model will launch first with 510 horsepower and 615 pound-feet of torque, which adds up to a towing capacity of 8,000 pounds and 1,200 pounds of payload. The RST trim offers a Wide Open Watts (WOW) Mode that bumps power to 664 ponies and 780 pound-feet of torque, which is good for a 0-60 mph time of just 4.5 seconds.

The RST model offers advanced features to make daily driving easier for the everyday buyer, including four-wheel steering, automatic adaptive air suspension, a 17-inch touchscreen and 11-inch gauge cluster, a 14-inch head-up display, and Super Cruise with trailering capability. An available onboard generator system can produce up to 10.2kW of power for equipment such as worksite power tools or campsite gear.

2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV Preorders for the $105,000 RST First Edition sold out in just 12 minutes.Chevrolet

Both trucks come exclusively in crew cab format, and will offer an "eTrunk" where the engine bay would be in a traditional truck. The lockable, weatherproof compartment can carry a large suitcase, and adds to the Silverado EV's already impressive interior storage. The RST's center console can swallow more than seven gallons of gear, which is large enough to hold a small lunch cooler, according to Chevy. RST models are also available with GM's excellent Multi-Flex tailgate, but there's a new feature for the electric truck that its gas-powered counterparts don't get: A Multi-Flex Midgate that opens the space between the cab and bed for carrying longer cargo. Using the function won't interfere with use of the back seat, either, so the truck will still carry at least four people.

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